Introduction

Hedwig Schwall
2018 Review of Irish Studies in Europe  
All this time,' he said, 'you've not told me what you intend to do with her.' 'Do with her? You talk as if she were a yard of calico. I shall do absolutely nothing with her, and she herself will do everything she chooses. She gave me notice of that.' 2 This issue of RISE focuses on tissue in text(ile)s. It is the result of a workshop on text(ile)s we held in the Leuven Centre of Irish Studies (LCIS) on 9 -10 December 2016 where we discussed the links between the weaving and wearing of textile,
more » ... earing of textile, and the representation of these in art and anthropology, in archeology and history, but mainly in literary texts, more specifically poetry. As this symposium was organized by the LCIS it was conceived as an interdisciplinary research exercise, starting off with the bigger European picture, then moving to Ireland, the laboratory where theories are tested on Irish history, Irish art, Irish literature. As many contributions focus on the way in which the textile motif can highlight how the material and the immaterial can be interwoven (Enright, Carson, Clutterbuck, Paterson, Coughlan, Karhio, Armstrong, Richardson) while others link textile with politics (Bryan, Duffy, Collins, Armstrong, Paterson) this introduction will contextualize these two aspects of textile here. More specifically I will look at very specific examples in which forms of textile inspired concepts, social relations and psychological theory. This will provide some background to the contributions to this issue of RISE which are truly multidisciplinary, ranging from discussions of textile in art (Baert, Duffy, Schwall); life (Enright, Carson, Richardson) and politics (Bryan) to analyses of Irish poetry ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. Textile metamorphosing the mind: myth, praxis, theory Old Hebrew literature shows us how textile is a basic metaphor for life. Job asks God: 'Did you not clothe me with skin and flesh / and knit me together with bones and sinews?' 3 The psalms, too, describe the human being at the very initial biological level as being woven by God: 'For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb'. 4 But most interesting is the story of human creation in Genesis 1-3: apart from speaking, cloth-making is the very first cultural act in the Bible, and the first thing Adam and Eve do together. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good to eat, and that it was pleasing to the eye and tempting to contemplate, she took some and ate it. She also gave her husband some and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they discovered that they were naked; so they stitched fig-leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 5 These two sentences specify the (in)famous fruit not by saying they were apples (green, orange, golden or any other type), it is only the prohibition on the one hand and the attraction 1 As Catriona Clutterbuck observes, the ampersand looks like a looped thread or elaborate stitch. Another similarity between text and textile production is noted by Jindani who sees a parallel between quotation marks and stitches. 2 Ralph Touchett to his mother, Portrait of a Lady, Chapter V.
doi:10.32803//rise.2018.03.01 fatcat:uggqxd3vqvgspbjldybqphoo7u